Massive mural of Harriet Tubman unveiled in chosen hometown of abolitionist

Tubman lived in Auburn, New York, for over 50 years before her death in 1913.

September 24, 2022, 5:11 PM

The 'Harriet Tubman: Her Life in Freedom Mural' was unveiled in a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday in downtown Auburn, New York, the city where the abolitionist, activist, and freedom pioneer spent over 50 years of her life.

Measuring an impressive 26 by 61 feet, the mural, commissioned by a group called the Harriet Tubman Boosters, showcases Tubman's life as a self-emancipated woman.

Debra Rose Brillati, a member of the organization first formed in 1953 to keep Tubman's legacy alive, told ABC News that the piece has been an ongoing project since 2019. After years of fundraising efforts, the Harriet Tubman Boosters reached their $40,000 fundraising goal on August 19.

Details of a mural of Harriet Tubman painted by artist Arthur Hutchinson, in Auburn, N.Y.
Courtesy of Arthur Hutchinson

While the mural was an idea that had been discussed by the group previously, it was Michael Rosato's 'Harriet Tubman Mural' in Cambridge, Maryland, near Tubman's enslaved birthplace of Dorchester County that prompted the group to move forward.

"When we saw that we said, 'You know what, we need a mural in Auburn'," Brillati said. After a meeting with Rosato, the Harriet Tubman Boosters mural committee ultimately decided to find a local artist to take on the project.

"And so when we saw Arthur Hutchinson's work, we were like, boy, this, this fits the bill," Brillati added.

Artist Arthur Hutchinson who painted a mural of Harriet Tubman in Auburn, N.Y.
Courtesy of Arthur Hutchinson

Arthur "The Artist" Hutchinson, the creative behind the mural, told ABC News that he wanted the piece to be a vibrant tapestry that makes an impact on all who see it.

"The tricky thing about this mural is it's not just a picture of her, it's really there to tell her story," Hutchinson, who grew up in Auburn, said. "I hope they react at first and just see this bright, beautiful picture and are attracted to it. And then once they start to actually look at it, I hope they're able to learn that Harriet Tubman did more than the Underground Railroad."

The design features scenes of Tubman at various stages of her life including her as a leader of the 1863 Combahee River Raid, a nurse during the Civil War, an active participant in the women's suffrage movement, and an older woman in the apple orchard she cultivated at her home.

Not far from the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, the mural is the Harriet Tubman Boosters' latest and largest project in furthering their mission of honoring Tubman's life, Brillati said.

"She worked her whole life. You know, she never gave up on her quest for freedom and justice and rights for people," she said. "And that's…a story that we have to tell here that I think is important for people to hear."

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